In The Driver's Seat

New owners shun media, but focus on 'building over time'

What, one wonders, did Chase Carey, the grandly moustachioed new chairman of Formula One, think of his first Grand Prix?

First, there was the spectacular shunt at the start, even before the first corner. But then it fell into snooze mode for the next 30 laps.

So perhaps he will have figured that F1 isn't always about immediate gratification, that it can sometimes be a slow burner before suddenly erupting into spectator-pleasing life. It did that as Mercedes switched Lewis Hamilton to "Plan B" on the 45th lap, with a set of super-soft Pirelli tyres, a move that triggered responses from Ferrari and Red Bull.

As Mercedes missed the chance to pit Nico Rosberg, and then realised that to do so would drop him to fourth, it became a whole new ball game as Daniel Ricciardo closed a 25.8-second gap to just four-tenths of a second by the finish line. Had it been a 62-lap race…

It may be a while before we can supply a precise answer to the opening question, since Formula One Management oddly adopted a policy of denying the media access to a man who will be a key figure in the future of the sport. After all, it is Grand Prix racing from which they earn their living, and the depth and strength of their support is often overlooked or simply taken for granted. But Carey did speak to the official website, and the views he expressed there were interesting.

The first dramatic collision came in the opening seconds yesterday as Force India's Nico Hulkenberg veered off course after being hit by the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

What, he was asked, makes an American media conglomerate such as Liberty Media invest heavily in a sport that currently does not mean a great deal to many Americans?

"Business has got global and Formula One is a global sport. So the times when you were thinking in terms of continents and regions is a thing of the past," he said.

The Force India, having spun 180 degrees, crashed into the wall, leading to the immediate deployment of the safety car. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"I definitely would agree that the US is an area of opportunity for the sport in the longer term. But so (are) the Americas and Asia - and we certainly believe that all these are important areas of growth."

Perhaps the best answer came to the question of whether Liberty are of the same "profits are everything" mentality as the outgoing CVC Capital Partners.

Hulkenberg walked away unscathed from the wreckage of his car. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"It sure is not 'take the money' with a focus on how to get the profits up in the next 12 months - it's about how to build long-term value. So the focus will be investing and building over time. That is the mindset that we bring and hopefully it will enable us to bring Formula One to the next level."

He (Carey) will have figured that F1 isn't always about immediate gratification, that it can sometimes be a slow burner before suddenly erupting into spectator-pleasing life.

What about the three biggest assets of F1? What has he personally been most impressed by?

"The amazing cars and technology; the stars - the world is built on heroes; the global aspect of the sport with these amazing venues. I haven't been to all the venues so far, but Singapore certainly is amazing. The race is great - that's the core - but it's really a week-long extravaganza with music and entertainment, creating a great event."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline 'New owners shun media, but focus on 'building over time''. Print Edition | Subscribe